Olympic Marathons are run on Sunday mornings. That makes it difficult for me ever to watch one live.
Back in 1984, video cassette recorders were new. I borrowed one to record the women’s Olympic Marathon. I was eager to watch it on VHS tape as soon as I got home from church. But that was the year the American, Joan Benoit won the race. That meant I heard the news at church before I had a chance to watch it.
Same thing yesterday. I have been following the career of Galen Rupp since he was in high school. I was eager to see how he would do in the marathon (his second attempt at that distance). That would be my first order of business when I got home from church. But of course, some of you had watched it before you came to church and figured I’d love to know that he won the bronze medal.
If I’m still doing this ministry thing four years from now, maybe I’ll come to church on these Olympic Marathon Sundays with a sign around my neck saying, DON’T TELL ME ABOUT THE MARATHON!!!
Georgene Johnson was not among the first finishers in her first marathon. But no one ran a braver race. She started running just to lose some weight and get in shape. It was hard, but she stayed with it. Eventually she decided she was ready to attempt a 10K (6.2 miles).
She got to the starting line plenty early. She was surprised by how many people were already there. She just followed the crowd and when the starting gun sounded, she started running.
After about four miles it occurred to her that they should have already turned around. She asked a race official about it. He said, “Ma’am, you are running the Cleveland Marathon.” That’s 26.2 miles, not 6.2. It turned out the 10K was to start after the marathon had started. She was in the wrong race.
Most people would have quit. Either right then, or after she had finished the 6.2 miles. But not Georgene Johnson. She kept running. She finished the whole thing (and in a very respectable time). Here is what she told herself: “This is not the race I trained for. This is not the race I entered. But for better or worse, this is the race that I am in.”
Some days we wish we were in some other “race”. Something easier. Something we’re prepared for. Something we signed up for. Life is seldom that way. Life is full of surprises. Some welcome, some not so welcome. But as it says in Hebrews, we are to “run with perseverance the race set before us” (12:1).
It may be longer and harder than we expected. But “looking to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), we will have everything we need to finish strong.
In Christ, John